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An Overview of our new UNIT OF INQUIRY

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November 28, 2010

Dear 5V parents

This last week was another busy one in 5V.  After finishing up our final unit reflections on the "Ancient Technologies" unit early in the week, we started into our new unit of study on Wednesday, November 24.

Our new unit on how organizations work
Our new unit of study falls under the topic "How We Organize Ourselves", and is specifically a study of how various organizations work to impact the world.  As with our last unit, we will be doing a lot of research using books and the Internet, but this unit will include field trips to various local organizations like JICA (the Japan International Cooperation Agency), IKEA (the Swedish furniture retailer), and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.  Small groups of students will go to each organization to hear presentations and conduct interviews about what the organizations do, how they organize themselves, and what systems they use to get their jobs done.  All field trips will be done in the week of December 6 through 10.  Be expecting more information regarding these field trips very soon!

Focus on presentation skills
While the last unit focused on developing the students' writing skills by having them write a formal essay, this unit will focus more on developing students' oral presentation skills.  Throughout the unit, students will be getting a lot of practice giving oral presentations, both live presentations in front of the class and recorded presentations using their computers.

All students have set goals for themselves regarding the particular aspect of oral presentation that they most want to improve, and most of them have decided to focus on either expressiveness of their voice or volume of their voice as they give an oral presentation.  Our first opportunity to begin working on these aspects of presentation is going on this weekend, as the students are doing their homework assignment (described in an e-mail that went to you on Friday) to practice expressive reading of two pages of the book "Kid Blink Beats the World".  This is just the first of a number of activities in which we will work on building confidence and improving speaking skills when giving presentations.

Your child will be interviewing YOU
One special activity will be coming up soon (either the week of November 29 or the week of December 6) and will call for the cooperation of parents.  Your child will be coming home to interview one or both parents about organizations that they currently or previously worked for or have been a member of.  This is another special opportunity for you to be involved with our unit classwork, and I encourage you to be willing and helpful interview subjects.

Final project:  Live presentation and recorded presentation

The final project will involve your child doing in-depth research on an organization of their choice (the mission of the organization, how the organization fulfills its mission, its personnel and structures, the systems it uses to accomplish its mission, etc.).  They will organize the information they gather and present both a live presentation to their classmates and make a recorded presentation using software on their computers.

That is the broad overview of our new unit of study (which began on November 24 and will conclude by January 21).  We very much appreciate your involvement, and I will try to keep you posted on our progress as the unit proceeds.

Best regards to all,

Mr. Vimont